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  • Camera traps…the door to a secret world!

    The Mammal Society

    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By Rose Toney, Training and Events Officer at the Mammal Society

    Until a few short years ago, camera traps were the preserve of the hunting fraternity and the scientific community, where they were employed to monitor elusive, often endangered species in some remote part of the world. They remain a vital tool for ecological research and conservation, but, with the increase in technology and decrease in price, camera traps (or trail cameras, as they are also known) are providing a window on wildlife in our communities, schools and indeed our gardens.

    A badger emerges from the vegetation, captured as part of The Mammal Society's camera trap project

    I was first bitten by the camera trap bug almost a decade ago, having borrowed one from a colleague. The excitement I felt when checking the memory card for the very first time and seeing a pine marten has never diminished; ten years on, I still get that rush of anticipation and excitement when I check the cameras. There have been some great discoveries along the way, including footage of a young goshawk exhibiting play behaviour with pine…

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  • A vision for nature at Wicken Fen

    National Trust

    Partner organisation of the Watches

    A corner of England that has more species of plants and wildlife then anywhere in the UK has celebrated its 120th anniversary – with the arrival of a species possibly not seen there in centuries.  National Trust owned Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire has become a rich oasis of life since becoming one of the first national nature reserves, starting with just a two-acre patch of fenland in 1899. 

    Wicken Fen, cared for by the National Trust, is home to over 9,000 species. Photo by Justin Minns/National Trust.

    In 1999, the Wicken Fen Vision was launched; a 100-year plan to extend the nature reserve to cover over 53 sq. km. In the last 20 years we have more than doubled the size of the nature reserve, which now covers 2000 acres, and seen the arrival of key species including water vole, otter and bittern.

    Bitterns are true wetland specialists - but their colouration makes them tough to spot. Photo by Richard Nicoll.

    In this anniversary year, the National Trust has celebrated the arrival of a pair of common…

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  • Wave after wave of UK ocean conservation news

    Marine Conservation Society (MCS)

    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By Peter Richardson, Head of Ocean Recovery, Marine Conservation Society.

    That old adage about waiting for buses comes to mind… we have been waiting for years for good news about UK marine protected areas (MPAs), and so far, in just ten days, June has seen three big announcements come our way.

    We welcomed the good news from Secretary of State Michael Gove, on June 3rd, that 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) will be designated in seas around England and Northern Ireland. MCZs are a ‘light-touch’ type of MPA, they allow multiple uses of the marine environment so long as those activities do not threaten the ‘features’, meaning those listed species and habitats the MCZ is set up to protect.

    The sun casts its rays across the ocean. Photo by Benjamin Davies.

    These ‘features’ include an odd mix of obscure and better-known creatures and plants, as well as the places they call home, including common eider ducks, seahorses, black bream, pink sea fans, ocean quahogs, native oyster, stalked jellyfish, tentacled lagoon worms,…

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  • Taking it to the long grass…

    Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)

    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By Helen Bostock, Senior Horticultural Advisor at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)

    A healthy pond will support more garden wildlife than any other garden feature – from damsel and dragonflies to frogs and newts. But what borders it can be just as important; providing vital shelter for these all important visitors and helping to attract other wildlife into your plot.

    What's around your pond is often just as important as the pond itself. Photo by Tim Sandall/RHS.

    To support as many…

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  • Bugging out in the Cairngorms

    Brett Westwood

    Naturalist and broadcaster

    The ancient Caledonian pinewoods near our Springwatch base at the Dell of Abernethy are rich in wildlife, but not all of it thrives in deep dark forest. We took a stroll a couple of days ago and stumbled on a sunlit clearing, which used to be a timber yard. This natural amphitheatre is a stage for some wonderful insects and spiders.

    Brett Westwood and digital team member, Nick Jones, stroll through an old timber yard looking for invertebrates. Photo by Ben Morrison.

    We were on the hunt for the star of the show, one of Britain's…

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  • Counting puffins on the Farne Islands

    National Trust

    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By Gwen Potter, Countryside Manager for Northumberland Coast and Farne Islands, National Trust

    It’s June on the remote Farne Islands and National Trust rangers have started the task of counting the islands’ thousands of pairs of puffins. The much-loved seabird, which has traditionally done well on these wild isles off the Northumberland coast, is being closely monitored amid fears climate change is having an adverse effect on sources of food and puffin numbers internationally.

    Puffins are one of our most unique and charismatic birds. Photo by Paul Kingston/NNP.

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  • Call of the curlew: what can be done to stop its decline?


    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By Peter Morris, Head of Communications at WWT

    We are home to a quarter of the entire global population of curlew. If the curlew dies out in the UK, they are in real danger of disappearing from the earth all together. The scary news is that UK’s curlews are in serious decline. The British countryside is no longer a safe place for curlews to raise their young. With too few chicks surviving to fledge, there are not enough youngsters joining the population to replace the adults. We’re facing a future without our wader - that’s if nobody does anything about it.

    Curlews fly over the water en masse. Photo by WWT.

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  • The Cairngorms – Home of Springwatch 2019

    Mark Flowers

    Series Producer of the Watches

    Series Producer of the Watches, Mark Flowers, looks at what makes our home for the series so unique as we enter the final week of this year's Springwatch.

    The Cairngorms are the wildest part of the UK – their snowy peaks, ancient forests and deep lochs define the Highlands of Scotland, and they are full of some of our most rare and most spectacular wildlife.

    The home of Springwatch 2019 is the Dell of Abernethy, a lodge built in 1780 deep within the Majestic Caledonian Pine forest. The Dell is surrounded by swathes of ancient pinewoods, moors, open grassland, farmland and garden spaces, all…

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  • How to help two beautiful, but endangered, beetles this summer

    People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)

    Partner organisation of the Watches

    Summer is almost upon us, which means many mammals, birds and insects will be out and about looking for food and mates. We, wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), have been standing up for endangered wildlife for over 40 years, but when summer comes around, this means one thing – beetles!

    Although much smaller and often less charismatic than other endangered species, beetles are a hugely important part of our native flora and fauna and, without them, our ecosystems would be in serious trouble.

    Stag beetles emerge in late April and May - one of the most spectacular…

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  • Living the high life

    Brett Westwood

    Naturalist and broadcaster

    Spring on the summits of the Cairngorm mountains can look very much like winter! Large areas are sometimes blanketed with snow well into May and patches hang on throughout the year in some sheltered corries. Even in May and June it can feel wintry up here, which shouldn’t surprise us given that this is the closest thing we have to an Arctic climate in Britain.

    As the snow melts, ptarmigan, the grouse of the high mountains, begin to lose their white plumage and grow grey feathers in order to blend in with the newly exposed rock. Their creaking calls echo among the boulders, loud enough to be…

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